Pretoria - In light of the contract renewal impasse with defender Siyabonga Sangweni, Orlando Pirates are reportedly in pursuit of University of Pretoria defensive linchpin Buhle Mkhwanazi.
The move has been sparked by the deadlock in negotiations between Sangweni and Pirates, with Mamelodi Sundowns allegedly having offered the defender a lucrative contract. Sangweni, whose contract at Pirates expired at the end of the season, is mulling over his options, while he is still a free agent.
Mkhwanazi, the prodigiously talented AmaTuks captain, has been on the Pirates radar for some time, and it appears the Soweto giants are finally about to make a swoop for their man.
Pirates have an ageing group of central defenders which includes 38-year-old Lucky Lekgwathi, Sangweni (32) and Rooi Mahamutsa (32) which makes the courting of the 24-year-old Mkhwanazi that much more sensible.
AmaTuks head coach Steve Barker said Pirates had shown interest in acquiring the services of his star player.
“There have been inquiries made about the possibility of signing Buhle from us. This past season he was one of the more solid players in the team. A number of clubs have been keen to find out about the availability of the player,” said Barker.
But Barker was adamant that AmaTuks will not be entertaining any offers from any club.
“We are not looking to sell Buhle.” They had decided to keep all their top players and “not to lose them like we did before.
“In the past we lost players for various reasons but now having been in the PSL for two years we are looking to build and become a top competitor.
“We want to go to the next level as a club and to do that we cannot afford to shed any players. This season we will definitely not be losing any players,” Barker said.
Since joining AmaTuks in their rookie year two seasons ago on loan from Sundowns, Mkhwanzi has seen his profile soar and earning a Bafana Bafana call-up.
Since making his debut for the national side, Mkhwanzi has been a constant feature in coach Gordon Igesund’s plans.
Mkhwanazi, on duty with Bafana on their tour of Australasia, might play in the encounter against New Zealand at the Mt Smart Stadium on Friday.
Pirates, the four-time PSL champions, have already poached Andile Jali and Aubrey Ngoma from the university club.
Pirates administrator Floyd Mbele refuted claims that the club were after Mkhwanazi and even claimed he did not know who the talented defender is.
“I don’t know anything about that. Who is he? I don’t know the player. We are not looking at signing him,” Mbele said on Wednesday.
It was the very same Mbele who dismissed last week suggestions that Pirates were after midfielder Issa Sarr of Platinum Stars.
A few of days ago, Pirates announced that they had signed Sarr on a three-year deal.